Helena’s Country Cafe expands

Andrew Dawson and Leisa and Jim Reed are a new partnership with the addition of Drew’s Brews to their business. (Photo by Candice Black)

RIPLEY — “Welcome home” greets customers at Helena’s County Cafe in Ripley.

Owners Jim and Leisa Reed opened the restaurant in April as a cafe specializing in country cooking. Since then, the business has expanded to include a specialty bakery and coffee shop. The coffee shop opened last week.

Since the Ripley area was lacking a coffee shop, the Reed’s partnered with Andrew Dawson, a family friend and coffee shop manager, to offer coffee to their customers. Dawson’s shop, previously called Drew’s Brews, was located in Sissonville.

The soft opening of the coffee shop held was Aug. 23 with the official opening on the 28.

“We’ve had a terrific response,” Dawson said. “You can definitely tell it’s going to be something that’s going to pick up and do well.”

Home cooking and atmosphere is offered at Helena’s Country Cafe in Ripley. (Photo by Candice Black)

The coffee shop offers “pretty much the freshest coffee you’re going to find in the area,” he said.

Dawson plans to transition the name to The Little Coffee Shop to go along with The Little Bakery where baked goods are sold.

With a background in the news industry and sales and marketing, Leisa and Jim decided to fulfill a life-long dream of Leisa’s by opening their own business.

“My husband and I love people. The most important thing is we get to know all the people,” Leisa Reed said.

A lifetime of country cooking and baking inspired Leisa to pursue the business. Her interest was partially instilled by Helena, Leisa Reed’s grandmother, the namesake for the business.

Leisa Reed still has recipes that were written by her grandmother’s hand.

Other recipes that were passed on to Leisa are more than 100 years old. In particular, the recipe for their chocolate chip cupcake dates to 1863.

“(I’ve) done country cooking all my life and that came naturally and the bakery came naturally,” Leisa Reed said.

What she believes is unique about the business is that the business provides home and country cooking, a bakery and coffee shop.

“It’s unique because it’s all three under one roof,” Leisa Reed said.

Along with home-cooked food, coffee and fresh-baked goods, Helena’s Country Cafe sales a wide variety of local craft items brought in from the community.

“We promote local,” Leisa Reed said. “It’s a very unique shop and very different.”

Leisa hopes the business will bring serenity.

“I want them to come and enjoy and sit down and not worry about the day to day aspects of the world. They can come and sit back and relax and enjoy themselves,” she said.

Jim Reed said it is important how people are treated when they walk through the door.

“The way you’re greeted at the door should be a greet and treat to let them know that we care about them,” he said. “I make people realize that we’re family,” he said.

The Reed’s and Dawson express their gratitude toward the community for helping promote their business.

“We have some locals that are constantly bringing other people here. They’ll bring different people all the time,” Leisa Reed said.

Other local businesses also promote the cafe.

“We’ve always loved Ripley. It’s just a small little town and you don’t see those anymore,” Leisa Reed said.

The Little Coffee Shop and The Little Bakery are open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The cafe hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Candice Black can be reached at cblack@newsandsentinel.com.

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